Some say that sleeping too much is a sign of weakness, or laziness. And this idea is not only typical of men; women also tend to view things this way. But we don't really need to be "restless" in order to prove that we are young. The fact is, in order for us to feel young and full of life, we need sleep. More precisely, we need a well-balanced, yet sufficient number of sleeping hours. The reality is that, during sleep, each part of our body gets reset and re-established.
What happens when we sleep?
During sleep, we can process the newly acquired notions and information; we can reorganize our memory, and our entire system can re-generate its cells. Hormones of growth are produced in order to fix the destroyed tissues in the case of adults, or to create a new tissue in the case of children. Such tissues are also created in order to block the destroying effects of stress.
So if we deprive ourselves of sleep, not only do we lose a lot of benefits, but also can harm ourselves without even knowing or intending to. When we sleep well, we are in an excellent physical shape. And if we don't get enough sleep, we are likely to feel exhausted, and none of our systems can work at its best capacity. We cannot think straight, we cannot make the right decisions, and we may have trouble remembering essential things like where we parked our car or where we left our keys. This malfunctioning of the entire body can make us vulnerable to heart diseases, brain strokes, diabetes or obesity.
Follow sleep routines
First of all, we must try to go to sleep at the very same hour everyday. That may be hard, especially since we have so many "temptations", which may include watching a movie, chatting on the internet, and so on. But in order to be able to go to sleep at exactly the same hour everyday, the secret is waking up at the very same hour everyday. A good-night sleep is guaranteed by the way in which we start our day.
When we open our eyes, light awakens our optical nerve and the brain's biological clock. This stimulates the secretion of hormones which regulate everything, starting from our way of thinking to our way of feeling and acting. Sunlight has the power to activate our organism. If we wake up at a different hour everyday, the biological clock may not get synchronized and we are likely to feel tired all day long.
Before you go to sleep, prepare for it
▶ An important thing in order for us to sleep well and therefore have a healthy, well-balanced life is to set aside one hour for ourselves only, every evening, before going to sleep. The idea is to be able to make the transition from the person who can do anything, to the person who needs sleep. It's very important for our general and mental health to do this simple, yet so often neglected thing like take some time for ourselves.
▶ Some do house chores before going to sleep, some look after their children, and others spend time on the internet or take care of job-related problems. But all these aren't good if we want to have a good night sleep after a long, tiring day.
▶ We need to give up our tendency to work 24/7. Otherwise, even in our sleep our mind can think of work and how to solve certain job-related issues. And in time, this can affect our health. We must be utterly convinced of the fact that we cannot and do not have to take care of everything. It's for our own good and for the good of those around us.
▶ Many people stay up working till late, but that again is wrong. When we are tired, we cannot think straight and clear, so it's not true that if we spend some more hours working, we will solve the most difficult problems. Even if we do so, the fact that we've worked till late will follow us, affecting our good night sleep.
▶ To prepare your mind to sleep soundly, try and clear it. A few unwinding techniques like deep breathing, muscle relaxation and visualizing a peaceful place, can help the brain to calm down and sleep better.
Things to remember
▶ Once you lie down to sleep, if you fall asleep within less than five minutes, it means you're sleep deprived. The ideal gap is between 10 and 15 minutes, as this means you're tired enough to sleep deeply, but not so exhausted that you feel sleepy by day.
▶ Sleep deprivation is to be taken seriously as it affects the brain in multiple ways, resulting in poor judgment and slow reactions.
▶ Think before you drink that cup of coffee in the evening. It delays our brain's release of melatonin and interrupts our circadian rhythm by as long as 40 minutes. Heavy meals should also be avoided at night as fatty foods take longer to digest, which may cause sleeplessness. Watch what you are eating before bedtime; it can hold the answer to your sleep disorders.